Bodyshaming behind the keyboard

I’ve talked about bodyshaming before. I’ve talked about people trolling and shouting at me when I’ve been out running and it really hurts. I’ve had some charming individual drive up to me to call me “fatty”. You could argue that I should grow a thicker skin or learn to ignore it,  but it hurts.

I was recently invited to take part in a campaign called “Everyday Athlete”. This campaign is fantastic – it’s trying to inspire people to make small changes to their everyday behaviours, which result in a healthy lifestyle. Everyone is an everyday athlete. I was really excited to be asked to take part in this campaign and I was asked to create a short video showing an exercise that you can fit in to your routine. I opted to show off arm circles – if you do these right, they really burn and even if you only do them for 20 seconds at a time in each direction, if you do this several times a day, you’re really giving your arms a workout.

The video was published on Sunday.

Maybe I should have been prepared but literally the only thing I could focus on was this comment:

What do you do for your gut

 

gut

 

Some of you may be reading this and thinking what’s the big deal? You may be thinking that’s hardly offensive. Grow a pair. Toughen up. Get a thicker skin. He didn’t call you fat.

But hold on. Why would you say that if not to be passive aggressive and get at someone? Especially when that person isn’t toned and does have a bit of a tummy? It was designed to insult me. Using the word “gut” made it pretty obvious he was out to insult.

I make no apologies – the point of this blog post is to make people realise that there is someone behind the computer screen. I’m not joking. I read that comment. Then I read it again. Then I read it a third time and I burst into tears. I felt like I’d been punched in the face. I cried for about two hours and immediately took to Twitter and Facebook. Here is my Facebook status from that afternoon:

 

facebook

 

Maybe you wonder why I’m so bothered, why I’m so self-conscious. I have struggled with my body image since Rose. Yes, fine, I’ve never been super slim, my tummy has always been a little soft perhaps, but pre-pregnancy, I kind of liked my figure. But then I struggled to lose the weight after Rose and now I have days of liking my body and days of hating it.

I was proud of that video. I thought I looked ok. I was delighted to be asked. I didn’t care that I’m not honed, that I still have probably another 10lb to lose. I felt confident.

That comment made it come crashing down again. I have some stretch marks on my stomach still. I have a pouch from that c-section. My thighs, a little chunky to begin with, now carry some extra weight on the inner thigh.

All I could see were my flaws.

My gut.

What someone else perceives to be a flaw.

I cried, my heart felt like it was breaking and my wonderful friends said so much to offer comfort – thank you, I’m so lucky to have you all and you made me cry some happy tears.

So why was I so upset? I’ve been really wanting to lose the extra weight and I am slowly getting there. The person who commented didn’t stop to consider anything about me, that I had a baby after a tough pregnancy, that it took me ages to get back to strength. That my head keeps telling me that I can’t and I have to shout at it. That the PND demons still tell me that I’m crap and shouldn’t bother.

When people make comments like that, I wonder why I do bother.

My body, with THAT gut? Since having a baby, I’ve completed a further 3 marathons, taking my total to 4. I’ve done countless 10ks and half marathons, maybe they’ve been on the slow side, but I’m getting stronger and I have made progress.

I just don’t understand how we can live in a society where someone who is unfit or overweight is criticised for…trying to get fit? Why make them a laughing-stock? Why point out what they already know and make them feel like s**t?

My body might be stretch marked, I might have a gut, but I’m still moving and trying to push my limits.

So I’ll keep running. I’ll keep bowling.

And here are the things that I do…despite my gut.

 

bowling

 

flying1

 

IMG_1562

 

I’m having fun. I’m moving. I’m exercising.

With my body.

My body to live in. Not your body to insult.

So I’m going to try to ignore those demons and tell them to shut up. They don’t need to be fuelled by some keyboard warrior hiding behind a screen. Behind this screen, there is a person. And that person was broken by one comment.

11 Comments

  1. July 2, 2016 / 5:32 pm

    Boom!!!

    Get knocked down, jump up higher and faster. You should edit the last line. You’ve not been broken. You might have cracked but you never broke and you are stronger now.

    Great post.

  2. Rick Mills
    July 5, 2016 / 10:19 am

    I’m in awe of you. Citius Altius Fortius x

  3. July 5, 2016 / 6:51 pm

    You GO GIRL!!!! You are beautiful and inspiring!!!!
    Xxx

  4. Kamila
    July 7, 2016 / 8:33 am

    Your article made me cry. It is so honest and to the point. I cried many times over my body shape and eventually I learned to pretend I’m not bothered or mask it behind the humour. I admire your honesty and determination Helen. You are a great beautiful person, strong to face your offenders and tell them the truth about you. And that takes courage.

  5. July 7, 2016 / 12:52 pm

    I hate that you had to write this article but I really admire your honesty Helen. Please keep being you. I’ll be honest, my Instagram troll did upset me. I looked in the mirror, had a cry and then the tears turned to anger. I reported my keyboard warrior and Instagram did nothing. Apparently calling a complete stranger an “ugly f***” is acceptable behaviour. Thanks Instagram.

    • July 8, 2016 / 10:20 am

      I was absolutely horrified by your troll, I felt angry and upset for you. It’s basically bullying (and untrue) and I think Instagram should have taken a much stronger line!
      Helen recently posted…parkrun – road to 50My Profile

  6. July 8, 2016 / 1:43 pm

    Honestly, this made me so emotional, I’ve had such a hard journey with my body other the years and felt alllll the emotions.
    People are truly awful and sometimes have no realisation of the hurt they cause others, it’s an incredibly small minded and terrible way to be.
    It’s incredible that you have achieved so much, isn’t it wonderful that you have that to be proud of? What a blessing that we can move? Regardless of our size/age/race…
    I saw someone for the first time in 6 months last week and she comments that I look ‘content’ and my reply was ‘I am’. She then replied the fact I’d put on a lot of weight suited me, I know it was meant as a compliment but all I could think about was the fact I’d gained 9lbs…
    At the end of the day, sod what people think…be happy!
    xxx

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